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Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov (born January 30, 1981 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria) is a Bulgarian footballer who plays as a striker for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League and Bulgaria.

Early life and career

Berbatov was born in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. His father was a professional footballer with local outfit Pirin Blagoevgrad, and his mother Margarita was a handball player.His career began at the same club, and continued until he was spotted by legendary scout and coach Dimitar Penev and, only 17, he moved to one of the most successful Bulgarian clubs CSKA Sofia following in the footsteps of his father, Ivan, who also played for the club as a left winger and later as a defender. He played for CSKA in the Bulgarian A PFG between 1998 and January 2001 making his debut as an 18-year-old in the 1998-99 season. He started to make his name the following year when he scored 14 goals in 27 league games and won the Bulgarian National Cup in 1999. However, Berbatov did not enjoy a good relationship with the fans of the club. He was seen to have missed chances in crucial games, one example being in May 2000 when CSKA lost to arch rivals Levski and also lost the title. Things went sour further after CSKA started the new season with scoreless draw against Litex Lovech. The fans were further enraged blaming the misfiring youngster for the early exit in the UEFA Cup against MTK. Worried about her son's safety Berbatov's mother made a public appeal to the most radical fans.

Bayer Leverkusen

A run of nine goals in 11 games in 2000/01 was enough to persuade Bayer Leverkusen to sign Berbatov in January 2001. Berbatov had a slow start to his Leverkusen career with just 16 goals in his first 67 appearances for the club. He did however play a crucial role in the Champions League during his first season with the club scoring a memorable solo effort against Lyon with an excellent bit of skill, as well as a goal against Liverpool in the quarter finals. He also played a part in the Final against Real Madrid coming on as a substitute for Thomas Brdaric after 38 minutes.

Dimitar Berbatov
Personal information
Full name Dimitar Ivanov Berbatov
(Bulgarian: Димитър Бербатов)
Date of birth January 30, 1981 (1981-01-30) (age 26)
Place of birth    Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.89 m)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current club Tottenham Hotspur
Number 9
Youth clubs
  Pirin Blagoevgrad
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1999–2001
2001–2006
2006–
CSKA Sofia
Bayer Leverkusen
Tottenham Hotspur
050 (25)
152 (68)
033 (12)   
National team2
1999– Bulgaria 57 (37)
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 16:55, 22 May 2007 (UTC).
2 National team caps and goals correct
as of 16:51, 3 June 2007 (UTC).
* Appearances (Goals)

In 2001-02 Leverkusen were runners-up in the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal. During the 2002-03 Bundesliga season Berbatov established his place as the first-choice forward at Bayer Leverkusen but it wasn't until the 2003-04 season that he really began to shine scoring 16 goals in 24 starts. The following two seasons saw him go from strength to strength, netting another 46 goals including 5 in the Champions League 2004-05 raising awareness of his talent and generating interest from teams throughout Europe.

Tottenham Hotspur

In May 2006, Berbatov joined English Premiership team Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of €16m[1] (£10.9 million).[2] making him the most expensive Bulgarian player in history, more expensive than Valeri Bojinov (€13m) and Martin Petrov (€12m). After being granted a work permit, the transfer was completed, and Berbatov joined Tottenham on 1 July 2006.

Berbatov scored his first Tottenham Hotspur goal on his home debut in the Premiership game against Sheffield United at White Hart Lane. He built up a rewarding partnership with Robbie Keane in the UEFA Cup until Spurs' departure to Seville in the quarter-finals, and, despite Martin Jol's rotation of his fellow strikers, Berbatov has firmly established himself as the first choice forward at the club. His experience in Europe is already reaping rewards for his new club. He scored five goals in four games during the group stage of the Uefa Cup, with his performances earning two man-of-the-match awards in the group stages against Besiktas and Club Brugge. Despite his good form in European competition, Berbatov took a while to adapt to the Premiership, however he soon began to regain the great league form he had shown at Leverkusen with an excellent performance against Wigan, scoring one and creating the other two in a 3-1 win. On December 9, 2006, Berbatov scored his first FA Barclays Premiership brace for Spurs in a 5-1 victory for his side against Charlton Athletic. Berbatov came on as a second half substitute against Fulham FC in the FA Cup to score his first two goals in the competition. Berbatov scored his first away goal in the Premiership at Goodison Park against Everton, a first-time shot from around the penalty spot after an Aaron Lennon cross. Spurs went on to win the match 2-1. On February 25 2007, Berbatov earned the Man Of The Match award in a 4-1 win against Bolton Wanderers after putting on a sensational performance which won him many plaudits, despite him not scoring in the match. One remarkable factor about the match was that Tottenham were reduced to 10 men after Robbie Keane was sent off in the first half, meaning that Berbatov had to play the entire second half without a partner in attack, one of the few times he had been asked to do this at Spurs. However he still managed one of his best Premier League performances yet, and in the month that followed began to firmly establish his reputation as one of the most skillful strikers in the Premiership. Berbatov ended the 2006/07 season with 12 goals in 33 appearances (including substitute appearances) in the Premier League, and also chipping in with 11 assists.

Former Spurs captain turned Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp, has become a fan of Berbatov's displays and influence on the game, saying "Not many players could come to the Premiership and fit right in as he has done".

Berbatov was also included in the FA Premier League's PFA Team of the Season on April 21, 2007, one of only three players in the team not to play for league leaders Manchester United (the other two being Steven Gerrard and Didier Drogba).

Berbatov and Spurs team-mate Robbie Keane were named joint winners of the FA Premier League Player of the Month award for April, the Spurs pair are the first players to share the award since Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp and Edu jointly claimed the award back in February 2004

Berbatov also won the Tottenham Hotspur Player of the Season award in 2006/2007.

He scored the 100th goal of Tottenham's 2006/07 season with the first goal of a 2-0 victory over Charlton Athletic on May 7, 2007. This goal also helped to condemn Charlton to relegation. Berbatov is also one of the few people to have two goals included in the BBC's goal of the month competition shortlist, with his efforts against Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough both being recognised.

There had been speculation that Berbatov would be involved in a big money move to Manchester United or Chelsea but he has come and said that he is "a happy man in Tottenham. The club gives me everything I need to feel nice with them, and I actually do."

Career stats

All-Time Club Performance
 
Club Season Total
Goals
CSKA Sofia 98-99 6
99-00 16
00-01 15
Total   37
Bayer
Leverkusen
00-01 0
01-02 15
02-03 6
03-04 19
04-05 26
05-06 24
Total   90
Tottenham 06-07 23
Total   23
Career Totals   150
Correct as of 13 May 2007

Honours

Bulgarian Cup: 1999

Bulgarian Footballer of the Year: 2002, 2004, 2005

Bulgarian Fans' Player of the Year: 2006

Club Members Player of the Year: 2006-2007 [3]

Tottenham Hotspur Fans Player of the Year: 2007

Trivia

  • Has described former football player Alan Shearer as a role model.[4]
  • Scored 2 goals in 2 minutes in his first match as a Tottenham player against Birmingham in a pre-season friendly match.
  • Learned the English language by watching the Godfather films.[5]
  • Lists his hobbies as drawing and basketball.[6]
  • Berbatov was voted as one of the "10 Hottest Bulgarian Men of the Year", an award given by the Bulgarian NOVA TV tabloid show Goreshto ("Hot").
  • Berbatov has been given the nickname of "The Bulgarian Hitman" for his deadly aim at goal.
  • Berbatov admitted that he had been drawn to a life of crime at an early age, and stated that if it wasn't for football he might have been sucked into Bulgaria's dark underworld.
  • Another nickname given was "The devil with an angel's face".

References

  1. ^ NINE FOR BERBATOV. tottenhamhotspur.com. Retrieved on 18 May 2006.
  2. ^ BERBATOV: SPURS ON THE 'UP AND UP'. premierleague.com. Retrieved on 20 May 2006.
  3. ^ Dimitar Berbatov. TottenhamHotspur.com. Retrieved on 15 May 2007.
  4. ^ "No dream duel for Berbatov", UEFA, 2003-02-18. Retrieved on 2007-03-10. 
  5. ^ "Berbatov excels in the spotlight to put Tottenham through", The Independent, 2006-11-24. Retrieved on 2007-03-19. 
  6. ^ Dimitar Berbatov. BBC. Retrieved on 20 May 2006.

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